The following is the full text of the Explanation on the Draft Amendments to the Electoral Law of the National People's Congress and Local People's Congresses of the People's Republic of China delivered by Wang Zhaoguo, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Third Session of the 11th NPC here on Monday:
I have been entrusted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) to explain the Draft Amendments to the Electoral Law of the National People's Congress and Local People's Congresses of the People's Republic of China.
I. Necessity of amending the Electoral Law
The electoral system is the foundation of the system of people's congresses. The Electoral Law is an important law which guarantees citizens the right to vote and the right to stand for election and which produces deputies to the people's congresses at all levels in accordance with the law. The Electoral Law was first enacted in 1953, revised in 1979, and it has been amended four times since then. At the Seventeenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), it was proposed that we should firmly develop socialist democratic politics, expand the people's democracy, and ensure the people are the masters of the country. It was also suggested that we should gradually achieve the goal of electing deputies to people's congresses based on the same population ratio in urban and rural areas. In order to implement the requirements put forward at the Seventeenth National Congress, it was necessary to appropriately revise the Electoral Law on the basis of a review of our practical experience of elections.
The ratio of urban to rural population for electing a deputy to a people's congress is an important part of the Electoral Law. After the founding of New China and when the first electoral law was enacted in 1953, the urban population in China was relatively small - only 13.26% according to the 1953 national census. Given that the working class was mainly concentrated in cities at that time, in order to reflect the leading position of the working class in national political life and the orientation toward industrial development, the Electoral Law included differing regulations on the number of people needed to elect a deputy in rural and urban areas. For instance, the regulations for electing an NPC deputy stipulated that each province could elect one deputy for every 800,000 people, and municipalities directly under the central government and cities under the jurisdiction of provincial governments with a population of more than 500,000 people could elect one deputy for every 100,000 people. Such stipulations were absolutely necessary and conformed with China's political system and the particular situation at that time. When the Electoral Law was revised in 1979, the urban population had reached 18.96%. As a result, the 1953 stipulations basically remained in place and no big changes were made with respect to electing deputies to people's congresses based on different population ratios in urban and rural areas; however, the stipulations on ratios for people's congresses at different levels were clarified: the ratio was stipulated as eight to one for the NPC, five to one for people's congresses of provinces and autonomous regions, and four to one for people's congresses of counties and for autonomous prefectures and counties.
Since implementation of the policy of reform and opening up, China's economy and society have developed rapidly, urbanization has moved ahead unceasingly, and the urban and rural population composition has changed considerably. Based on the new circumstances and new situation, the NPC Standing Committee has made timely improvements to the electoral system and has amended and improved the provisions on electing deputies to people's congresses based on different population ratios in urban and rural areas. When the Electoral Law was revised in 1982, the following provision was added: in counties or autonomous counties which have towns with exceptionally large populations or enterprises and institutions whose workers and staff account for a relatively large proportion, the ratio between the number of people represented by a rural deputy and the number of people represented by a town deputy or a deputy from an enterprise or institution may, subject to a decision by the standing committee of the people's congress of the province, autonomous region, or municipality directly under the central government, be smaller than four to one, even one to one. When the Electoral Law was revised in 1995, the ratio of rural population to urban population represented by a deputy to the NPC or to the people's congress of the province or autonomous region was amended as four to one, the same as autonomous prefectures and counties. Since 1995, China's industrialization and urbanization have accelerated further, the economic and cultural level in rural areas has increased dramatically, and profound changes have taken place in the social structure. The urban population in China has increased from 29.04% in 1995 to 46.6% in 2009. At the same time, people's congresses at all levels have gone through many terms of elections, accumulated abundant experience, achieved enormous results in developing socialist democratic politics and a socialist legal system, and the class base and mass foundation for the people's democratic dictatorship led by the Party has been consolidated and expanded. The objective conditions are in place for revising the Electoral Law and electing deputies to the people's congresses based on the same population ratio in urban and rural areas.
II. Guiding Ideology and Formation of the Draft Amendments to the Electoral Law
The guiding ideology for the draft amendments to the Electoral Law was: to take Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents as our guide; thoroughly apply the Scientific Outlook on Development; and review practical experiences, improve the electoral system, elect deputies to the people's congresses based on the same population ratio in urban and rural areas, better reflect the principles of equality among people, regions and ethnic groups, spread the people's democracy, ensure the people are the masters of the country, and provide a solid, systematic guarantee for upholding and improving system of people's congresses as well as for developing socialist democratic politics in accordance with the requirements of the Party's Seventeenth National Congress.
We adhered to the following principles when drafting the amendments. One, we maintained the correct orientation, and expanded democracy. The Electoral Law is politically significant. When revising it, we maintained a correct political orientation; intimately integrated the leadership of the Party, the position of the people as the masters of the country, and the rule of law; adhered to the political development path of socialism with Chinese characteristics; and persisted in proceeding from China's particular conditions and realities. With the noble view that the people's democracy is the lifeblood of socialism, we improved the electoral system, further improved the universality and equality of elections of deputies to the people's congresses, and conscientiously ensured that the people are the masters of the country. Two, we concentrated on key areas and took all factors into consideration. The focus for the amendments to the Electoral Law was to implement the requirement proposed by the Party's Seventeenth National Congress that deputies be elected to the people's congresses based on the same population ratio in urban and rural areas, and at the same time, stay mindful of the other necessary amendments to the Electoral Law. The amendments to the Electoral Law are a self-improvement to and development of the socialist electoral system with Chinese characteristics. The amendments need to be adapted to economic and social development, proceed step by step, and gradually improve. Three, we were active yet prudent, and dealt with each problem separately. We carried out thorough research on widespread problems that arose during the implementation of the Electoral Law, and when conditions are ripe and agreement has been reached, we will implement the amendments accordingly. Regarding problems for which conditions are not yet in place to solve them, we will provide no stipulations for the time being and continue to explore solutions through practice.
Beginning in 2008, the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee set about researching amendments to the Electoral Law based on the work arrangements of the Standing Committee. It studied and sorted out the proposals and suggestions of NPC deputies on amendments to the Electoral Law made in recent years as well as opinions from other quarters; formed investigation teams with the relevant authorities and went to eight provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government to carry out investigations and studies, and held meetings attended by responsible persons of people's congresses of thirty-one provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government and by relevant departments of the central government, with a focus on listening to opinions on the issue of electing deputies to the people's congresses based on the same population ratio in urban and rural areas; and made profound analysis and repeated demonstration with respect to the issue of electing deputies to people's congresses based on the same ratio of population in urban and rural areas.
The draft amendments to the Electoral Law were formed on the basis of conscientiously sorting out proposals and suggestions of deputies, comprehensive investigations and studies, and listening to a wide range of opinions. In October 2009, the draft amendments were first deliberated at the Eleventh Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Eleventh NPC. After the meeting, the draft amendments were printed and distributed to the relevant departments of the central government, every locality, and relevant quarters for their comments, and revisions and improvements were made to the draft amendments based on the opinions of members of the Standing Committee during their deliberation and the opinions from all quarters. The draft was again deliberated at the Twelfth Meeting of the Standing Committee in December 2009. The draft amendments were fully affirmed and highly praised during deliberation at the two meetings of the Standing Committee. The members of the Standing Committee and the attendants without voting rights universally approved the guiding ideology and main principles for the current revisions and agreed with the amendment proposal that deputies to people's congresses should be elected based on the same population ratio in urban and rural areas, and that an appropriate number of deputies should be guaranteed for each region, ethnic group, and sector of society. After deliberating twice, the Standing Committee decided the draft amendments should be submitted for deliberation and approval at the Third Session of the Eleventh NPC.
On January 8, 2010, the General Office of the NPC Standing Committee distributed the draft amendments to the Electoral Law to NPC deputies as per the statutory procedure. The deputies carried out earnest research and discussions on the draft amendments to prepare for its deliberation. The deputies universally believe that the draft amendments conform to the guiding principles of the Seventeenth National Congress of the CPC, are in accord with the realities of China's economic and social development, can better embody equality among people, regions and ethnic groups, and will help to further spread people's democracy and ensure that the people are the masters of the country. Based on the opinions of Standing Committee members raised during deliberation and the opinions of deputies put forward during their discussion, we made further revisions to the draft; thus forming the draft amendments to the Electoral Law which would be submitted for deliberation and approval at this session.